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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 14:44 GMT
Rare praise for the Nepalese army
Nepalese soldiers patrol in Kathmandu
The more typical public image of the army in Nepal
The Royal Nepalese Army has been praised for its efforts to combat the poaching and illegal trade of wildlife.

The army, more often the recipient of criticism for alleged human rights abuses, has received an award from the UN wildlife protection body Cites.

Cites said they were recognising "exemplary efforts" to combat poaching and illegal trade, particularly in leopards, rhinoceros and tiger.

An army spokesman told the BBC they were very happy to have been honoured.

Officers from the army and the Royal Chitwan National Park Authority arrested over 30 people for wildlife crimes during 2004 and 2005.

Many of these people were subsequently given prison sentences.

Officers also seized skins, horns and bones, as well as illegal earnings.

Fighting on many fronts

Cites, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, awarded a certificate of commendation to the army and the park authority.

Cites Secretary General Willem Wijnstekers praised the Nepalese authorities for their commitment to protecting biodiversity at a time when law enforcement agencies face many other demands on their time and resources.

The Royal Nepalese Army has been fighting an armed Maoist insurgency for the past ten years in which more than 13,000 people have been killed.

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